Hands up how many of you made a new years resolution to lose weight. That’s what we thought! Leading a healthier lifestyle and shifting those extra kilos is one of the most popular commitments most of us bright eyed, bushy tailed optimists make when the new year rolls around - sadly it doesn’t always work out how we originally hoped.
Often, we hear about miracle diets, superfoods and exercise tools that sound like a great idea to help kick-start our fitness - but the price tag can often have us breaking out into cold sweats! Who can afford a $500 watch that tracks our every step and calorie consumed...not us!
Never fear - there are ways to give your diet and exercise regime an overhaul without going broke in the process. You’ll be surprised at how good you’ll feel - plus, you’ll have more of a chance of sustaining your new healthy habits if you can afford them!
Ways to give your diet a boost
1. Incorporate some cheap superfoods into your diet
You may have heard the term ‘superfood’ bandied about quite a lot when it comes to diet - but may be a bit fuzzy on what they are! Well, a superfood is something that’s packed with nutrients, more so than other foods, and is especially good for us!
The good news is, many of these superfoods aren’t expensive, and can easily be incorporated into your diet. An example is the leafy green kale, which is often called the ‘queen of greens’ because of it’s nutritional goodness! Kale is packed with protein, fibre and essential vitamins. And it’s only $2.50 a bunch! Kale is incredibly versatile - you can stir it into your favourite italian dishes and salads, blend it up in a delicious green smoothie or just steam and have it as a side.
Some other examples of cheep superfoods are:
Eggs! Yes, our favourite eggs make it onto the list because they are packed with such an abundance of nutrients - they’re also high in protein, which helps you stay fuller for longer. Eating them at breakfast time keeps you full, and makes you less likely to eat junk throughout the day. Plus, if you've got your own backyard chickens, eggs are free!
Kiwi fruit is very nutritionally dense, especially in Vitamin C. These babies go on special - you can pick up 10 kiwi fruits for $5 from the local fruit shop! That’s ten days where you can hit your Vitamin C requirements.
Beans are a great superfood to bulk up your meals. They’re packed full of fibre, protein and other nutrients. Next time you’re looking for a snack, grab a handful of fresh, crunchy green beans (only $3 a packet) for a crispy taste. Or, add some butter beans to your bolognaises for a creamy, filling flavour (only $1 a can!)
2. Get into green smoothies
Yes, this may seem like one of the fads we said we would avoid - but the truth is green smoothies taste great, and are a simple, cheap and easy way to pack more nutrients into your diet.
Not a big fan of your greens? You can still get all your serves easily by blending - the best part is, you can add yummy flavours that you do like into the smoothie as well. You won’t even taste the greens (but you’ll still get all the nutrition!) Green smoothies are delicious, customisable and a fantastic way to boost the nutrition content in your drinks and give yourself a healthy snack -they’ll keep you going all day long. Just combine your greens with delicious things like fresh fruit, coconut water, yoghurt, a little peanut butter or cacao...yummo!
You can buy blenders from the shops for as little as $10-25 - well worth the investment in your health! Try having a green smoothie every day, or couple of days at morning tea time instead of your usual snack and see how you feel. We guarantee you’ll feel the improvement, and have more of a spring in your step.
3. Grow your own fresh produce
Nothings more nutritious than your freshly picked fruits and veggies from your own crop. For many people, having luscious veggie patches is a bit out of their space range - but living in an apartment or having a small space doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own fresh produce! Many things like fresh berries, silverbeet and herbs can all grow in tight space, out of pots on a veranda or balcony.
The less an item of food has been handled, the better! You won’t find vegetables and fruit more nutritious than when it’s first picked. Plus, you know it hasn't had any harmful pesticides added. Perfect to put in your green smoothies. Here’s some more information on how to grow your own fresh produce - even if you don’t have acres of land to do it on.
Of course, you’ll see better results if you reduce the amount of fast food you eat - many of these foods we've suggested help you stay full, and will reduce cravings for the bad stuff. Remember, one step at a time!
Easy ways to get moving
Ok, now to the next part - exercise. The mere mention of the word can make some recoil in horror. But don’t think that exercise needs to be kilometre upon kilometre of sprints, or that you need hundreds of dollars in gadgets to monitor your performance. It just isn’t so!
For anyone who erks away from exercise, here are a few simple methods you can use to get yourself moving - one step at a time.
1. Stand up
Want to stay active, but sit at a desk all day for work? Stand up! Having a standing desk instead of a standard sitting desk is a great way to help you stay active. Standing burns more energy than sitting, and also makes you more inclined to walk around - increasing your number of steps per day. Also, it reduces the risk of many health issues such as diabetes, obesity and cancer. So, go for regular walks around the office, or instead of sitting down - just stand up! Even if it’s just for an hour or two, every little bit helps.
2. Start your walk/run small, and build up gradually
Many of us get a little ambitious when it comes to our exercise goals. You can’t expect to be able to run a half marathon with one month of training, when you barely set foot on the treadmill or the path! This disappointment can often be the downfall of our motivation, as we can’t do enough, fast enough.
So try setting some more achievable goals (and forget what everybody else is doing). If you’re not a runner, or just starting out, just run for one minute on the first day. That’s right, one minute (followed by a leisurely walk). Then, the next day try two minutes. And so on, and so on. It’s a much more gradual, easier way to build up your exercise, rather than going too hard too fast.
It may not seem like much, but you’ll be pretty chuffed when at the end of a month you can run for 30 minutes! Cost of running outside = free. Cos of an app that will track your distance = free. The satisfaction you’ll feel when you confidently hit the pavement after a month? Priceless.
This doesn’t just have to be applied to running or walking. You can use this method to increase your weights repetitions - you can pretty much apply it to any exercise!
3. Exercise with a friend
You are way more likely to exercise if you’ve got someone to be accountable to! It’s easy to stay in bed when only you made the plans to attend a gym class or go for a walk with yourself. But when you made a pact with someone else that you’d meet at 7am? Well, you’re more likely to keep it, rather than let your friend down!
Surely, another of your friends has made a pact to live a healthier lifestyle - so why not keep your resolutions together? The motivation from a like-minded friend is far less expensive than a personal trainer.
4. Get yourself some exercise duds
Yes, you heard right. We told you to go shopping (on a budget...this is a guide on how to get fit without breaking the bank!)
Usually, those who have never exercised or are just starting out, exercise in daggy old sweats and t-shirts because they have nothing else to wear. This doesn’t make us look or feel good. You’ll be pretty surprised how buying some stylish but functional exercise gear can motivate you to work out. The clothes are firmer, keep everything in place and make you look more streamlined - therefore you’re more likely to want to go exercise and show off your new gym gear!
Exercise clothes aren’t like normal ones - you don’t have to have a full wardrobe full of them! Just a few nice pieces that you can wash and re-wear. You can buy good quality exercise clothes for a reasonable price. It really will make you want to go do some exercise and break them in! It’s a good idea to get a pair of long leggings for the colder months, and perhaps some capri-style leggings or shorts for when it’s a bit warmer.
So, before you set yourself some more unrealistic health and fitness goals, maybe give these methods a try. You’ll be surprised the big difference that small changes can make. That way, you can ensure your new years resolutions stick!